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Abstract

Cities and nation-states are both substantive and conceptual. The study of urban imagination in modern Chinese literature needs to go beyond the model that builds on the concept of a uniform city and village. It requires an understanding of the limits in interpreting modernity and cultural perspective,and an emphasis on exploring the polysemy and fluidity of city images. Cities and nation-states constitute a “problem field,”in which the way of looking at and imagining cities are often marked by metaphors of the nation-state. Urban imagination and the idea of the nation-state are mutually illuminative. The expression of the idea of the nation-state has its own preferences and choices for cities. For instance,cities at the center of historical turmoil,those invaded by foreign civilizations,or those given high hopes for the rise of the nation-state,are the sites on which discourses and disputes about nation-state are concentrated. Among them,the literary imagination of national capitals and concession cities is especially favored in the expressions of the idea of nation-state. The urban imagination in modern Chinese literature can be studied by focusing on issues of the two identities of the city and the author and by introducing the idea of the mutually mirroring cities as well as transnational and cross-cultural perspectives. Through this,the space of the study on urban imagination and nation-state may be expanded.

Keywords

urban imagination, nation-state, modern Chinese literature, the problem field

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